Alan Kasal 12Oct2011 Yiddish Book Center
, Favorite Yiddish word
, Family traditions
, Jewish holidays
, Food and culinary traditions
, Jewish community (descriptions of place and social dynamics in a particular time)
, Alan Kasal
, Yiddish Book Center
, National Yiddish Book Center
, Wexler Oral History Project
, Jewish culture
Alan Kasal was interviewed by Mark Gerstein on October 12, 2011 at the Yiddish Book Center.
Run time 50 minutes 40 secondsProducer Yiddish Book Center (Benno)Audio/Visual sound, color
Alan Kasal, a former Special Education teacher at Amherst Regional High School, recounts his Jewish and Italian family background. His Jewish great-grandparents emigrated from Vienna and Hamburg. One of his great-grandparents opened a successful newspaper stand and was able to buy a home in Brighton Beach that housed many family members.
Alan describes what it was like growing up in a "blended" household, with a Jewish mother and Italian father. Alan was raised as a Jew, and although the family celebrated Jewish holidays, it was not a particularly religious home. Alan shares fond memories of family gatherings at Christmas.
Alan vividly depicts what it was like grow up in Brooklyn during the 1950s and 1960s, particularly the strong sense of community and the characteristics shared by Jewish and Italian Americans. He also relates how the events of the 1960s - including John F. Kennedy's assassination and the Vietnam War - had a disturbing impact on the neighborhood.
During his college days, Alan roomed with an Orthodox Jew, and he tells how he accommodated his roommate by keeping a kosher household. After college, Alan taught on the Taos Indian Pueblo in New Mexico, and he details the cultural issues that he confronted as a Jewish-Italian from New York. Finally, Alan describes his life today with his wife and four children and how his own Jewish identity has widened since becoming a parent.
To learn more about the Wexler Oral History Project, visit: http://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/tell-your-story
To cite this interview: Alan Kasal Oral History Interview, interviewed by Mark Gerstein, Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project, Karmazin Recording Studio, Yiddish Book Center, October 12, 2011. Video recording, http://archive.org/details/AlanKasal12oct2011YiddishBookCenter( [date accessed] )